Gov. John Bel Edwards has made his re-election campaign official with the release of a three-minute ad making his case for a second term and unveiling a new campaign website less than nine months out from Election Day.
“Louisiana is moving in the right direction, but we’ve still got lots of work to do,” Edwards says in the video that rolled out Tuesday morning. “Serving as your governor has been one of the greatest honors of my life and, with your support, I look forward to four more years of even greater prosperity and opportunities.”
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The ad doesn’t identify Edwards, the only Democratic governor in the Deep South, as a Democrat. Its timing coincides with the launch of Edwards’ new campaign website JohnBelForLouisiana.com.
“I realize this campaign won’t be easy,” Edwards says the ad, predicting that “out-of-state interest groups” supporting his opponents will spend “millions” attacking him.
Edwards, a Democrat who won what was thought to be a long-shot campaign for governor in 2015, announced shortly thereafter that he would seek a second term, so the news doesn’t come as a surprise.
He is currently the only state-wide Democrat holding office in Louisiana and has often sparred with Republican officeholders, including Attorney General Jeff Landry and U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, as well as the GOP-controlled state House leadership.
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Edwards, who previously served in the state House as a representative from his hometown in Tangipahoa Parish, has spent the past three years actively fundraising and announced earlier this month that he had raised $3.8 million in 2018, giving the governor more than $8.3 million cash-on-hand as he makes the case for a second term.
Two Republicans – U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham and Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone have announced plans to run against Edwards this fall. Others could enter the race.
Abraham's campaign quickly struck back at the governor's re-election video.
"Louisiana has seen the largest tax increase in state history, years of out-migration by the thousands, one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, failing grades for fiscal policy, and one of the weakest economies in the US under John Bel Edwards’ watch," he said. "If he's bragging about those as first term achievements, I'd hate to see what the next four years would look like. Louisiana is clearly on the wrong path, and the only way to correct it is with a new governor."
Abraham has a fundraiser scheduled in North Louisiana on Wednesday.
The election is Oct. 12. A Nov. 16 runoff will take place between the top two vote-getters if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary.
The Republican Governors Association quickly released a statement striking back at Edwards after his announcement video became public. This year's race for Louisiana governor is expected to draw significant national interest and has already been highlighted as a priority for the GOP nationally.
"John Bel Edwards does not deserve a second term as Louisiana’s chief executive,” RGA spokesman John Burke said. “Since taking office, Edwards has signed the largest tax increase in Louisiana history, weakened the state’s business climate, and pursued policies that have hurt working families. After three years of John Bel Edwards’ regressive, anti-growth agenda, it’s clear that Louisiana needs a fresh start and new leadership in 2019.”
Edwards, who is scheduled to be campaigning in Lafayette on Wednesday, appeared on Newell Normand’s radio show on WWL to discuss the campaign launch Tuesday morning.
“It, of course, took nobody by surprise, but you have to make it official,” he said.
He said that he thinks the state has seen improvements since he took office in January 2016.
“Louisiana is just doing so much better than three years ago,” he said. “The good news is the major challenges facing our state, we have successfully addressed.”
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